Accessibility links

FEATURE: Live CDKN commentary from COP21, Paris (week one)

Here, CDKN staff provide their commentary on the negotiations at COP21 and also on the many side events in which CDKN is involved. This blog covers week one (30 November – 6 December).

Sunday 6th December

20:00 – This weekend in Paris, Development and Climate Days participants considered the carbon footprint of the foods on our plates. Mairi Dupar of CDKN reports.

Insects are an unusual snack to find at the sidelines of a UN climate summit. But at this weekend’s Development and Climate Days – which took place in parallel with UN climate talks in Paris – participants tucked into mealworm-flavoured chocolates and cricket-topped macaroons.

At a provocative session, Pablo Suarez of the Climate Centre, flanked by top Senegalese chef Pierre Thiam and Economist editor Oliver Morton, launched the ‘Taste the Change’ challenge which urges people to embrace bug cuisine and start a massive trend for low-emissions food. Read the full article: Bug cuisine – a step toward sustainable food.

Saturday 5th December

20:00 – Some 200 people gathered in Paris today for the 13th annual Development and Climate Days to debate how to achieve ‘Zero Poverty, Zero Emissions.’ Discussions at this practitioner-led event centred on the need for bold and immediate action to tackle the challenges of climate impacts on the poor and to seize the opportunities presented by climate compatible development. Development and Climate Days is organised by the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre together with IIED, ODI, CDKN and IDRC. Mairi Dupar of CDKN reports.

Friday 4th December

15:00 – CDKN’s Ari Huhtala reports: On 4 December, the Adaptation Fund Board organised an informative side event sharing the experience of National Implementing Entities (NIEs) from Costa Rica, India, Micronesia and South Africa as well as comments by a civil society watchdog. No multilateral fund has tested more various modalities of direct access that the Adaptation Fund. The examples on the panel ranged from the NIE in India with a total capitalisation of USD43 billion to small foundation in Micronesia with a history of projects below USD100,000. The Fund has successfully adapted to their realities and needs, and become a channel of support that benefits most climate vulnerable communities. One of the key messages from this discussion was that direct access is the way of the future, but should not be implemented in a rush. As explained by Mandy Barnett from SANBI (NIE in South Africa), It takes time to build a healthy portfolio of projects, necessary networks for effective implementation, and process accreditation to the AF or the GCF. Direct access is risky and expensive, but provides an opportunity for coherent country-owned programmes, mainstreams adaptation into interventions at the local level, unlocks cross-sectoral challenges, and builds capacity. Programmes such as CDKN should support developing countries in building such agents of change.

 10:00The CDKN team rounds up COP21 day four (the previous day) as follows:

  • As of midnight tonight, the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform (ADP) will  officially cease, and will (potentially) become the Ad Hoc group on Paris Outcomes (ADO)
  • Climate vulnerable countries celebrated Germany’s backing of a 1.5degC global warming target. However, Saudi Arabia and India moved to prevent the inclusion of this within a Paris deal – by blocking a UN-published scientific report’s findings on the 1.5 vs 2 degC issue from being referenced in the text.
  • Africa’s Great Green Wall Initiative – a pan-African project to ‘green’ Africa from West to east to battle desertification – received a $4billion pledge from a combination of unilateral and multilateral sources.
  • The G77 and China express ongoing concern at the attempts by some developed nations to introduce new language on economic conditions into a deal on climate finance. They have objected to the inclusion of a clause which requires all developing countries ‘in a position to do so’ to also contribute to climate finance – as they feel this fails to acknowledge responsibility of developed nations for past emissions. However – it is perhaps too soon to tell whether this is a negotiating tactic.
  • Denmark has made a U-turn in its position – cutting previously ambitious climate targets and reducing pledged financial support by almost half.
  • The official streamlining of text is almost over, yet the inclusion of ‘food security’ remains notably absent from the operative text – though it is included in 60% of INDCs. Food production and distribution does appear – but to clarify the difference – food security is not a lack of food production, but rather the ability to access consistent, appropriately nutritious food.
  • In the cross-cutting issues contact group, tensions were very high as discussions centred around unresolved issues on differentiation. Old red lines appeared to remain, and there was no clear path agreed upon to deal with the issue in the main text. Parties did agree, however, on the importance of making special provisions for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island States (SIDs).

Thursday 3rd December

11:00 – Kiran Sura, CDKN’s Head of Negotiations Support, reports on a COP21 event where the governments of Kenya, Bangladesh, Lebanon and Germany presented insights on how they prepared their INDCs and intend to implement them. Additional reporting by Mairi Dupar, CDKN.

What needs to be done when negotiators and practitioners leave Paris to implement their (Intended) Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs)? This was the focus of yesterday’s side event hosted by Chris Dodwell of Ricardo Energy & Environment. Delegates heard from a panel consisting of representatives from Kenya, Bangladesh, Lebanon, Germany, UNDP and CDKN. It was clear from listening to country representatives that each country has developed its INDC based on its specific national circumstances, from some of the most climate vulnerable countries such as Bangladesh, to those at the forefront of transitioning to a low carbon economy such as Germany. This has resulted in a rich collection of pledges mitigation and adaptation, and requests for international support. Read the full blog on putting INDCs into action.

08:00 – CDKN’s Mairi Dupar reports on a special side event at COP21 to launch the Future Climate for Africa programme.

“When the ants start climbing the walls, the heavy rains are coming, ” said Dr Jacqueline McGlade at the Future Climate for Africa (FCFA) launch event at COP21 yesterday. It’s not the intervention you’d expect from UNEP’s Chief Scientist, but Dr McGlade had a point to make: indigenous knowledge on weather forecasting and climate adaptation, and innovative local forms of ‘citizen science’ have a role to play alongside scientific knowledge in helping societies cope with climate change impacts in the future.

The event brought together scientists and development practitioners to discuss the aims and approaches of FCFA’s ambitious four-year research programme. FCFA is investing GBP20 million (USD30 million) in leading-edge research to better understand Africa’s changing climate and the use of climate change information in decision-making – making it ‘one of the most significant investments in African climate science ever’ according to FCFA Director Stef Raubenheimer. It will support five major research projects – detailed on the programme’s new website

Read the full blog: Future Climate for Africa promises climate information to tackle development needs.
8:00 – The CDKN team rounds up COP21 day three (the previous day) as follows:

  • A new version of the text was released at 0800 this morning. This has been marginally slimmed down to 50 pages in length – with the legally binding section down from 31 to 26 pages.
  • Generally, progress is slow, as UN officials have noted. Sideline negotiations continue to take place in ‘informal informals’ outside of the official plenaries – as well as official spin-off groups which worked on: adaptation, mitigation, transparency, global stocktake, capacity building, finance, final clauses, purpose, technology development and transfer, implementation and compliance, and workstream 2 (pre-2020 ambition)
  • Yesterday saw Human Rights raised as a core issue by a number of parties, including the Philippines, Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico and Canada – however, many others feel that this issue must remain non-operative within the Climate Change agenda.
  • Saudi Arabia’s chief negotiator has defended his country’s target-free INDC – appealing to its action-based approach. He commented that there was almost no way to predict what would happen to the economy – roughly half of which relies on oil – as it would be so dependent on Paris, and the rest of the world’s future demand for hydrocarbons.
  • The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) launched a process to agree a market-based mechanism towards contributing to emissions reductions. Currently, the ICAO and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) – being international entities under no country jurisdiction – sit outside the scope of a Paris agreement. Emissions from the ‘bunker’ fuels of planes and ships are set to increase by 270% by 2050 at business as usual projections.

Wednesday 2nd December

16:00 – The COP21 has so far had a strong islands flavour – beginning on Monday when US President Obama met with the leaders of small island states and declared himself an ‘island boy’ (see Monday’s highlights), to today’s front page New York Times feature on the disappearing Marshall Islands and interview with Foreign Minister Tony de Brum.  Meanwhile, today was Pacific and Small Islands Day at the Tara Oceans and Climate Pavilion, organised by Rare and the Global Islands Partnership (GLISPA). CDKN’s Deputy CEO Ari Huhtala was invited to introduce the concept of climate compatible development, which led to a panel of interesting interventions on “Challenges for adaptation and mitigation for islands and coastal communities”.  He reports here on the ensuing discussion:

The concept of climate compatible development is extremely relevant to marine and coastal communities where opportunities for carbon sequestration meet with immediate adaptation challenges and direct links between livelihoods and effects of climate change.

The President of Palau, H.E. Tommy E. Remengesan Jr. highlighted his country’s recent bold decision to establish a marine sanctuary of 500,000 sq.kms (the size of France) leaving only 20% of their exclusive economic zone free for commercial domestic fishing. In addition to the creation of this carbon sink, Palau has submitted an Intended Nationally Determined contribution (INDC) to the UNFCCC with the target of reducing emissions by 50% by 2025 from business as usual. The President seeks genuine two-way partnerships to support its implementation.

Other speakers included Agus Dermawan (Director for Conservation and Marine Biodiversity of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Indonesia), Celine Charveriat (Head of Advocacy and Campaigns, Oxfam International), Brett Jenks (President and CEO, Rare) and Antha Williams (Environment Program Lead, Bloomberg Philanthropies). The importance of community ownership of development processes and reciprocity of support arrangements were highlighted, and good examples of successful climate compatible development initiatives were provided. To have global impact, these need to be scaled up and mainstreamed. And action is needed now, as in many island and coastal communities’ extreme weather shocks are becoming the “new normal”, as Celine Charveriat so eloquently put it.

10:00- The CDKN team rounds up COP21 day two (the previous day) as follows:

  • Yesterday was a REDD+ day at COP – and numerous events were hosted focussing on forestry. The COP21 co-chairs will be meeting with the Coalition for Rainforest Nations (CfRN) today to discuss REDD+.
  • The co-chairs have stated their commitment to having a new draft agreement in place by Saturday – in order for there to be a clear document ready for ministers when they arrive for the second week.
  • Heads of state continued to make some very well received speeches. Following Canada’s pledge, many other countries followed suit in making commitments to the Least Developed Countries Fund. Norway, Sweden and Spain used this as an opportunity to announce increases towards climate finance.
  • The Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI) was launched – the goal of which is to build at least 100GW of new and additional renewable energy generation by 2020 – and 300GW by 2030 (to indicate the scale – currently, the entire generation capacity of Africa is around 150GW).
  • US President Obama announced that the US will contribute $30million towards climate risk insurance for small island states at a sideline meeting This will be part of a broader set of actions to aid resilience, including providing climate data, tools and services, and incorporating climate change considerations into development assistance. An eye-opening article on the already visible effects of climate change on the Marshall Islands was published in the New York Times: 

Tuesday 1st December

16:00 – Mairi Dupar, Ari Huhtala and Sam Bickersteth take stock of today’s big announcement on clean energy innovation funding:

Bill Gates has joined forces with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg and other billionaire private sector entrepreneurs to announce the Breakthrough Energy Coalition. According to Mr Gates’ blog, the coalition will help private businesses innovate clean energy solutions and bring them to market. The Financial Times says the fund “would be worth more than $2 billion initially and as much as $20 billion over the next decade as companies and research institutions joined in”. The initiative has launched in tandem with ‘Mission Innovation’, an international effort of 19 governments to double their commitments to early-stage energy research and development. See more on the Breakthrough Energy facebook page.

Sam Bickersteth, CDKN’s Chief Executive, has said “Technology and public research matters for developing economies because it provides the opportunity for them to leapfrog from fossil fuel dependent and inefficient technologies into cleaner, greener alternatives.”

Last year, CDKN funded an important research initiative which explored the measures developing countries must take to exploit the opportunities of new, clean technology innovation and dissemination. The final report by Energy Centre of the Netherlands stressed the need for developing countries to establish ‘innovation systems at the national levels’ to help them develop in ‘self-directed ways’ which contribute to sustainability and serve their changing national circumstances. The findings suggest that welcome initiatives such as the Breakthrough Energy coalition have much to offer developing countries, if their governments create the institutional conditions to manage them.

The authors of the CDKN-funded study recommended that developing country governments should:

  • Take the entire innovation spectrum into account.
  • Prioritise national circumstances.
  • Consider broader innovation systems.

Monday 30th November

23:00 – The CDKN team rounds up day one of COP21 as follows:

  • 150 Heads of State spoke for a few minutes each in order to show their support for an ambitious deal. US President Obama was received well and Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada declared a U-turn in Canadian climate ambition.
  • Security and conflict was another theme of the statements, with many bilateral meetings on the sidelines between world leaders. Terrorism and climate change were framed as twin threats by countries such as China and France. With the urgency of the terrorism, there is concern that the security agenda may be used as a bargaining chip in the COP forum by some countries.
  • The Climate Vulnerable Forum released the ‘Manila-Paris’ declaration, calling for zero emissions by mid-century, 100% renewable energy decarbonisation by 2050 and $20 billion new investment in climate action by 2020.
  • India launched the ‘International Solar Alliance’ – which aims to raise $400m of finance. See Lit Ping’s blog. However, Modi also defended India’s coal use, with his Energy Minister saying “We are not at all apologetic of using coal”.
  • Some good news – a New York Times survey shows two-thirds of Americans want the US to join a binding climate change pact.

22:00 – CDKN’s Chief Executive Sam Bickersteth reports on the first day:

As Heads of State gathered to open COP21 in the main halls of  Le Bourget conference centre, the African Pavilion hosted a discussion on the challenge of financing climate action in Africa.   Most African Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) have highlighted the needs for adaptation finance in the critical sectors of agriculture, water, energy and infrastructure but international climate finance has yet to flow to meet these requirements.

The adaptation financing gap is highlighted in the recently published Uganda economic impact assessment study funded by CDKN.  Today I spoke at a side event hosted by NEPAD that highlighted the importance of locally relevant adaptation actions – and the reality that international finance can only be a catalyst for national and subnational resourcing.    It also highlighted the opportunities for private sector financing to build resilience and undertaken adaptation.  The Africa Risk Capacity, partner of CDKN, described the opportunity of leveraging resources from private capital markets by a factor of up to ten and insuring against climate related disasters such as drought and flood (ARC plans to raise GBP500 million by 2017).

I highlighted the need to present good quality projects to new funds that could represent the diversity of needs and capacities; technical assistance would enable the various actors from the public, private sector and NGOs to access new climate change adaptation funding opportunities including addressing issues of environmental and social safeguards such as gender inclusion.   In addition using a payment by results approach can ensure quality and accountability.  President John Kufour called on NEPAD to bring credibility and quality to project proposals through their leadership of Africa funds, and to bridge the knowledge and capacity gap and to enable partnerships and  investments  with the private sector.

Click through to see more detail from Bilal Khalid of CDKN on this story.

10:00 – Today, the opening day of COP21, sees Heads of State including US President Obama, Chinese President Xi, Indian Prime Minister Modi and French President Hollande converge on the conference site at Le Bourget, Paris. Various major funding announcements are expected from bilateral and multilateral agencies today, which will be important in setting the ‘mood music’ for the talks, especially for the poorest and most climate-vulnerable countries with the most to lose from climate change impacts. Poor and most climate-vulnerable countries are among the 178 nations that have submitted Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) – covering climate change mitigation and adaptation pledges – ahead of the Paris summit. Many low income countries’ pledges are dependent on outside assistance for finance, technology and capacity-building.

In the first of the CDKN blogs, Smita Nakhooda of Overseas Development Institute – a CDKN alliance partner – together with and Darius Nassiry, Head of International Cooperation at the Global Green Growth Institute explain why climate finance is a looming issue in these Paris talks. Read their complete live blog: ‘Financing INDCs: Realising opportunities for investment in mitigation and adaptation.’


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.